Local Indian defense industry has a history of many misses for its every hit. This proved the case with the INSAS automatic weapons family which was introduced to service with the Indian Army in 1998 as its standardized assault rifle. The primary complaints against the series were its general reliability under combat conditions and its ineffectiveness at longer-than-medium tank which was exacerbated but its use of the intermediate 5.56x45mm NATO rifle cartridge. As such, a new project was eventually drawn up to succeed the INSAS while other foreign designs were continued to be procured in the interim. The new indigenous venture is known as "Excalibur" and is based on the earlier iNSAS.
As soon as 2011, the Indian Army was looking for an INSAS replacement and called upon local industry to fill the requirement. When this endeavor was ended by the service, it looked to the already-in-development Excalibur by Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) and began a years-long relationship to bring the rifle to the field. Ordnance Factories Board was selected for its production.
The Excalibur is an all-modern system and brings about some improvements over the INSAS line including a folding shoulder stock, full-automatic fire mode and Picatinny rail sections for supporting various optics, aimers and other tactical accessories. The cartridge of choice is the 5.56x45mm NATO and this is fired from a 20- or 30-round detachable box magazine. Overall weight is 4 kilograms when loaded and overall length is 35.2 inches.
The gas-operated action allows for a rate-of-fire of 650 to 700 rounds-per-minute to be achieved. Muzzle velocity is 2,955 feet-per-second. Effective engagement ranges reach out to 450 meters. Iron sights are standard fittings for ranged fire. Night sights are also supported.
Outwardly, the weapon takes on an appearance similar to modern Kalashnikov assault weapons - there is a skeletal, folding shoulder stock and rectangular receiver. The pistol grip is angled rearwards and the magazine well is ahead of the trigger unit. A handguard protects the operators supporting hand from the hot barrel and the gas cylinder sits within this shroud over the barrel assembly. The barrel protrudes a short distance ahead of the handguard and sports a slotted flash hider.
The usual trials of the gun were held in 2014 and 2015 involving complete submersion in water/mud, general reliability and misfire ratio. However, it was revealed that the gun did not meet the Army's expectations as a direct INSAS successor and was rejected as a standard issue Indian Army long gun. It will be adopted in more limited numbers as an interim measure as the Army continues to seek out an INSAS replacement.
The West Bengal Police force is said to have a 292-strong order for Excalibur guns.
Manufacturing Ordnance Factories Board (OFB) - India
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